There is another format beyond that which is known to the DCI. It is a format as vast as perception and as timeless as stone. It is the middle ground between competition and chivalry, between structure and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's wistfulness and the summit of his jubilation. This is the format of old.
Scene: Stockholm. Summer’s day. Witness a man called Gordon Andersson, age thirtyish. Occupation: Jack of trades. Gordon Andersson, perhaps the sight of a rather minor component to a hot June, but in a moment he will venture a trail of invocation and revelry. For Gordon Andersson, this is just another step on a journey he began some twenty years ago. But for fellow mages, it is masonry of hidden paths in a city where the roads oft laid plain. If in any quest for Magic, in any search for sorcery, witchery, legerdemain, first check the human spirit. This is Gordon’s story. This is the story of the first Ivory Cup. /Mg out
First of all it’s important to note that even though 93/94 is credited a Swedish creation, it was founded on the west coast of Sweden while Stockholm is located on the east coast. It’s about a five hour drive from coast to coast in Sweden and this means that the community in Stockholm is not the same as the community on the west coast, something MG wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The format did however reach Stockholm quite fast and there have been old school players in Stockholm for many years, but mostly playing at their kitchen tables in separate local playgroups and just meeting up at tournaments in other cities.
Sometimes at our game nights we play mini tournaments but when it comes to larger, more organized tournaments, Stockholm has only had one, the last L.I.G.G tournament. L.I.G.G is a classic, beer infused tournament here in Stockholm that is organized by Pefken and Alexander Midjich every now and then. L.I.G.G doesn’t have a set format, instead it changes from tournament to tournament, but the main focus has been on Legacy and Vintage. At this year’s L.I.G.G Vintage was the format of choice but the organizers also asked the players if they wanted to play some 93/94 Magic. The answer was a ringing yes and the 93/94 part of this year’s L.I.G.G ended up having around 20 players flipping Chaos Orbs and smashing each others faces with Juzam Djinns. It was clear that there was a big local interest in the format, which got me and my co-organizers to start thinking about organizing a stand alone 93/94 tournament here in Stockholm. And so, Ivory Cup, the first dedicated 93/94 tournament in Stockholm was born.
The tournament consisted of 29 players with roughly 20 from Stockholm, 3 from Uppsala and 6 came all the way from Arvika and Karlstad (about a 5 hour drive). We played 5 rounds of swiss before a cut to the top 8 and intentional draws where strictly prohibited. We drank over 200 bottles of beer, ate 19 pizzas, broke one mirror and had more than a few laughs until the last bunch gave up around 5 am. Amongst the players where multiple people with Giant Sharks and also one player that is 5 years younger then the game itself (more about him later on). We also had a player that came into contact with us because he wanted to sell his cards as he hadn’t played for many many years. One buyer then told him about the old school community and Ivory Cup so he paused his selling spree to play some last games and after winning his first 93/94 game at Ivory Cup it became clear that he ain’t selling anymore.
I actually don’t have much to say about the swiss as I either played or stood at the bar serving beer but I’ll try to write about a couple of highlights. To everyone’s surprise the world champion Martin Berlin showed up with an aggro deck completely without counterspells instead of his classic The Deck. But he still showed us all that he is the champion for a reason by being the only player to end the swiss undefeated at 5-0. One of his opponents was Seb Celia who became the only player to make it to top 8 with a 3-2 record, a top 8 in which he got his revenge and knocked out Martin Berlin in the quarter finals.
The top 8 decks!
If we are allowed to say it ourselves we had an amazing top 8 with a good spread of archetypes and players of all ages and backgrounds.
The winner of the tournament, Max Weltz has only been playing for a bit over a year but has put up some great results with his aggressive take on Troll Disco*. His eight trolls are joined by a full set of Nevinyrral's Disks, and to get rid of all those that oppose the trolls, including players, he plays eight Bolts and two Fireballs. And just to make the opponent feel even worse he also plays a full set of Sinkholes which can win games all by themselves. A big congratulations Max from the organizers of Ivory Cup!
|Max Weltz's Troll Disco|
|Johan Larsson's Goblin Sligh|
Pefken is one of the old timers when it comes to 93/94 in Stockholm and he is also one of the revered few who has a Giant Shark in his deck. For this tournament he sleeved up what I would say is his signature archetype, Parfait, a classic prison deck that wants to make the opponent’s life miserable with Winter Orbs, Icy Manipulators and more. The fun thing is that he decided on this deck before Eternal Masters changed the game big time with it’s errata on Winter Orb. That of course only made the deck better and as one of Pefken’s victims in this tournament I would say, this deck is for real. But no matter how good the deck is, Pefken lost in the semifinals to Troll beatdown. It’s hard to beat four Nevinyrral's Disk when your whole deck is built around permanents.
|Seb Celia's The Deck|
As I wrote earlier Martin Berlin came to event surprising us all with a deck completely without counterspells. Martin is calling it Arabian Aggro but you could also call it Zoo, or maybe Big Zoo? With only two answers to City in a Bottle a deck called Arabian Aggro will probably die if one hits the board, but on the other hand, not many players are using City in a Bottle these days, so why not play some of the best creatures in the format and back them up with restricted cards and Lightning Bolts? This deck took Martin to a top 8 finish where he was stopped in his track by Seb Celia’s The Deck.
|Martin Berlin's Arabian Aggro|
|JohanGuld's Erhnam Burn'em|
|Gordon Andersson's Power Monolith|
Keeping with the local tradition in Stockholm, the last non-dropping player in the tournament was designated Rag Man and of course awarded with the signature card, this time with signed greetings from Daniel Gelon Congratulations Andreas Ahlgren!
Interview with Johan Larsson
At last, some quick questions for Johan Larsson who may not have won Ivory Cup, but for his efforts got a signed and limited print of Elves of Deep Shadows from 1995. He was definitely the story of the day as he hadn't played the format at all before Ivory Cup and still made it to the finals. Hi Johan!
GA: You usually play legacy and have never tried 93/94 before, what are your first impressions of the format?
Johan: It is very fun. The formats offers exciting plays, exciting cards and exciting decks. It definitely a format I want to play more of.
GA: Tell me about your experience at the tournament.
Johan: I went into the tournament with no expectations whatsoever. I thought I might win a match or two if I got lucky. But then the wins started pouring in. Somehow the small goblins backed up by lightning and a giant red moon got there over and over again. And on top of that I managed to get lucky as well. For example i topdecked a ball lightning for the win in the last round of the swiss (which felt amazing) and in game 3 of the quarterfinal my opponent went land into ancestral on turn one but never managed to find a second mana source which made it easy for me to win. As for the sideboard, there were many very good cards such as the REB:s but a few cards should certainly be replaced. Goblin Cave for example might be cool, it just isn't very good.
GA: Any additional comments about the deck, any MVP:s or completely useless cards? And which matchups seemed to be the hardest ones?
Johan: The deck felt good. It did what it was built to do, namely dealing damage and getting free wins with Blood Moon (which is the best card in the deck). The individual cards in the deck are of very different power levels but all seemed to fulfil their role. A card that actually surprised me was Ankh of Mishra which dealt a lot of damage to my opponents throughout the tournament. A matchup that felt really hard was the one against Troll Disco. I played against that deck three times in the tournament going 1-2 against it. The game I won was against a build of the deck with more land destruction and less trolls and it is the trolls my deck have a really hard time dealing with.
GA: Enough about goblins now, if you had an infinite amount of money, what deck would you play?
Johan: Hmm. I think many of the blue combo decks such as Felipe's Twiddlevault deck and Gordon's power artifact deck are very interesting. Even though I love Juzam Djinn over all the other card in this format I have to go with one of those two decks.
GA: Any thoughts about how the 93/94 community or the tournament differs from your other Magic experiences?
Johan: I would say that the term “Laid back” best describe both the tournament and the community. There are for example very few magic tournaments where I can enjoy a beer while playing a match. The vibe of the tournament is much less competitive than tournaments in other formats which is perfect when the main goal is to have a good time. As for the community there were many nice people i knew from earlier and the new people I met were also very nice.
GA: Last but not least, how well did you do with your Chaos Orb flips? Because as I understand it you had never flipped one until this tournament?
Johan: I only got to flip it once and that was a hit. On an Ivory Tower if I remember correctly. I was taught how to do it just before the tournament however. If I hadn't gotten those reps in it would probably had gone worse on that part.
* = Max himself wants to call the deck Disco Troll but as he isn’t the one writing I’ll call it Troll Disco. You want to know why? Because it’s not ONE troll dancing disco, a Disco Troll. It is eight trolls dancing disco, so it becomes a Troll Disco.